8 Things to know about HomeKit
1. HomeKit is positioned very well to solve the the “App Fragmentation” problem on the IOS device – it is a framework that will enable having an application that can control multiple Home Automation devices through a single User Interface. The foundational premise of HomeKit for solving the challenge is to have a common database, and a common taxonomy. Apps using HomeKit will store the information related to the Home Automation devices (or Accessories as Apple calls them) in common database locally on the IOS device. Apple is enabling developers to go after the really hard part of having the best user experience of using home automation by coming up with HomeKit.
2. Apple with its HomeKit has defined a common language and hierarchy to discover, define, and communicate with devices – or what are called “Accessories” in the Apple parlance. The root of the hierarchy starts with the “Home”, then works its way down to the “Room” and to “Accessory”. Accessory is the “thing” – the lamp or the switch that controls the lamp – and it has characteristics. There are ’services’ associated with Accessories.
3. Zones, Scenes, and Service Groups can be created.
4. HomeKit supports APIs for discovering, pairing, and organizing accessories, and associated actions with them using the extensive, but simple to use HomeKit framework. Accessories, and services to an extent can be assigned names – and here is the interesting part – because they have ‘names’ – Siri can be leveraged. Xcode will support a simulator that would mimic accessories supporting the HomeKit protocol – allowing developers to get started.
5. Common accessories such as Garage Door Openers, Lights are defined and to open up the eco-system – both Custom Accessories and Custom Services can be defined by manufacturers and partners.
6. There is “HomeKit” protocol defined between the IOS device and the Accessory (or the thing/device). The APIs on the HomeKit leverage this protocol to communicate with the accessory.
7. While no specific mention of ZigBee or Z-Wave was made, non-HomeKit accessories or things will be supported using the notion of a “bridge” [for example the Philips Hue bridge, whose functioning I covered here]. The bridge would be a device or piece of software that can translate between the HomeKit protocol and whatever is on the other side.
8. My guess is that ‘licensing’ the HomeKit protocol is covered under the MFi program (just as AirPlay is Apple-licensed protocol).